300 square feet of light, bright new space optimizes spectacular views and an updated midcentury-modern vibe.
NAVAJO THE CAT has not fully adjusted to his new home. You would think enough time has passed — his human family (Nick Abbott; Ali Milne; and their college-graduate son, Joe) moved to this lovely bluff setting five years ago — but perhaps not quite enough distance.
“We knew we were looking to downsize and wanted a one-level, forever house, and we knew we wanted to stay in Innis Arden,” says Ali. “We moved here from 1.5 miles away. Our cat keeps going back — through ‘Coyoteville,’ through ravines — and I’ve got to go get him. It was really cute for the first four years.”
His family’s current home, built in 1956 and newly enhanced by a delightful 300-square-foot addition and remodel, just oozes cool-cat habitat.
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It took some work.
“There had been two owners — the last one for 50 years,” says Nick. “It was the original 1950s kitchen and appliances. The master bath looked like a museum. We did the initial work on the bathroom and kitchen, and then the fireplace.”
Nick and Ali are both research scientists (he’s an equity research analyst for Wells Fargo, and she teaches middle-school science). For the big stuff, they called in the pros: architect Curtis McGuire, the team at Claddagh Construction and structural engineer Gary MacKenzie of Swenson Say Faget, who beautifully brought Nick and Ali’s midcentury modern home into an enlightened more-modern era.
“The addition itself is situated to open up their existing home to the yard, the spectacular views and the morning-through-evening daylight,” McGuire says. “Another important part of the project scope was the reorientation of the garage, which allowed for a cool entry approach and landscape design to the front door.”
New windows went in. A wall came down. A new metal roof sprouted new solar panels. And every single thing in the entire addition adds up to awesome:
• Nick the family cook designed the “simple kitchen” with Ikea, siting the induction cooktop so he can Sound-gaze while he sautés.
• To help support the quartz countertop, Ali says, McGuire sketched the perfect “Why don’t you do this?” solution on a napkin: integrated vertical wine racks on the end — one side for whites, one side for reds.
• Ali selected a joyful palette of “just a few carefully curated colors,” Nick says (glistening white cabinetry, extra-cheerful aqua subway tiles, brilliant orangy bar stools and dining chairs), and a couple of fantastic patterns (diamond tiles on the dining-area fireplace, in consultation with Elizabeth Anderson Interiors, and wallpaper in the sitting room happily reminiscent of a Technicolor “off-the-air” screen saver from the golden age of television). “I had picked that wallpaper and knew it’d go somewhere in our house, sometime,” Ali says. “We did that in one afternoon. (Nick) only swore at me once — no, make that twice.”
• Edging the dining area, an 18-inch-deep ledge below the wood-beamed ceiling provides shade from the upper clerestories; electrical outlets for music; and one decorative basket, which is part joke and part perfect: “We put that up there for Curt,” Ali says. “He had drawn baskets and ferns in the plans.”
In the original part of the home, past the wall-of-windows living room and Nick’s bird-watching perch of an office, the master bathroom (formerly bright green with green-and-white wallpaper) glows from a new skylight, new frosted glass and the absence of green-and-white wallpaper. “When the sun is just right, it makes a prism in the shower,” Ali says.
The light-filled master bedroom added new doors, tall windows and the perfect outdoor space to appreciate a little privacy, and a massive view.
“The deck, evenings especially — that’s why this is our forever house,” Ali says. “It’s the nicest sun in the evening, right here. Just gorgeous. We’re so lucky. In our previous house, you could see the water, but it wasn’t as good as this.”
This is it, Navajo. Come on home.